QTL Mapping of Intestinal Neutrophil Variation in Threespine Stickleback Reveals Possible Gene Targets Connecting Intestinal Inflammation and Systemic Health.
ABSTRACT: Selection, via host immunity, is often required to foster beneficial microbial symbionts and suppress deleterious pathogens. In animals, the host immune system is at the center of this relationship. Failed host immune system-microbial interactions can result in a persistent inflammatory response in which the immune system indiscriminately attacks resident microbes, and at times the host cells themselves, leading to diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease, and Psoriasis. Host genetic variation has been linked to both microbiome diversity and to severity of such inflammatory disease states in humans. However, the microbiome and inflammatory states manifest as quantitative traits, which encompass many genes interacting with one another and the environment. The mechanistic relationships among all of these interacting components are still not clear. Developing natural genetic models of host-microbe interactions is therefore fundamental to understanding the complex genetics of these and other diseases. Threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) fish are a tractable model for attacking this problem because of abundant population-level genetic and phenotypic variation in the gut inflammatory response. Previous work in our laboratory identified genetically divergent stickleback populations exhibiting differences in intestinal neutrophil activity. We took advantage of this diversity to genetically map variation in an emblematic element of gut inflammation - intestinal neutrophil recruitment - using an F2-intercross mapping framework. We identified two regions of the genome associated with increased intestinal inflammation containing several promising candidate genes. Within these regions we found candidates in the Coagulation/Complement System, NFkB and MAPK pathways along with several genes associated with intestinal diseases and neurological diseases commonly accompanying intestinal inflammation as a secondary symptom. These findings highlight the utility of using naturally genetically diverse 'evolutionary mutant models' such as threespine stickleback to better understand interactions among host genetic diversity and microbiome variation in health and disease states.
Project description:Much of animal-associated microbiome research has been conducted in species for which little is known of their natural ecology and evolution. Microbiome studies that combine population genetic, environment, and geographic data for wild organisms can be very informative, especially in situations where host genetic variation and the environment both influence microbiome variation. The few studies that have related population genetic and microbiome variation in wild populations have been constrained by observation-based kinship data or incomplete genomic information. Here we integrate population genomic and microbiome analyses in wild threespine stickleback fish distributed throughout western Oregon, USA. We found that gut microbiome diversity and composition partitioned more among than within wild host populations and was better explained by host population genetic divergence than by environment and geography. We also identified gut microbial taxa that were most differentially abundant across environments and across genetically divergent populations. Our findings highlight the benefits of studies that investigate host-associated microbiomes in wild organisms.
Project description:Multicellular organisms interact with resident microbes in important ways, and a better understanding of host-microbe interactions is aided by tools such as high-throughput 16S sequencing. However, rigorous evaluation of the veracity of these tools in a different context from which they were developed has often lagged behind. Our goal was to perform one such critical test by examining how variation in tissue preparation and DNA isolation could affect inferences about gut microbiome variation between two genetically divergent lines of threespine stickleback fish maintained in the same laboratory environment. Using careful experimental design and intensive sampling of individuals, we addressed technical and biological sources of variation in 16S-based estimates of microbial diversity. After employing a two-tiered bead beating approach that comprised tissue homogenization followed by microbial lysis in subsamples, we found an extremely minor effect of DNA isolation protocol relative to among-host microbial diversity differences. Abundance estimates for rare operational taxonomic units (OTUs), however, showed much lower reproducibility. Gut microbiome composition was highly variable across fish-even among cohoused siblings-relative to technical replicates, but a subtle effect of host genotype (stickleback line) was nevertheless detected for some microbial taxa.IMPORTANCE Our findings demonstrate the importance of appropriately quantifying biological and technical variance components when attempting to understand major influences on high-throughput microbiome data. Our focus was on understanding among-host (biological) variance in community metrics and its magnitude in relation to within-host (technical) variance, because meaningful comparisons among individuals are necessary in addressing major questions in host-microbe ecology and evolution, such as heritability of the microbiome. Our study design and insights should provide a useful example for others desiring to quantify microbiome variation at biological levels in the face of various technical factors in a variety of systems.
Project description:Vertebrates harbour diverse communities of symbiotic gut microbes. Host diet is known to alter microbiota composition, implying that dietary treatments might alleviate diseases arising from altered microbial composition ('dysbiosis'). However, it remains unclear whether diet effects are general or depend on host genotype. Here we show that gut microbiota composition depends on interactions between host diet and sex within populations of wild and laboratory fish, laboratory mice and humans. Within each of two natural fish populations (threespine stickleback and Eurasian perch), among-individual diet variation is correlated with individual differences in gut microbiota. However, these diet-microbiota associations are sex dependent. We document similar sex-specific diet-microbiota correlations in humans. Experimental diet manipulations in laboratory stickleback and mice confirmed that diet affects microbiota differently in males versus females. The prevalence of such genotype by environment (sex by diet) interactions implies that therapies to treat dysbiosis might have sex-specific effects.
Project description:Recent studies of interactions between hosts and their resident microbes have revealed important ecological and evolutionary consequences that emerge from these complex interspecies relationships, including diseases that occur when the interactions go awry. Given the preponderance of these interactions, we hypothesized that effects of the microbiota on gene expression in the developing gut-an important aspect of host biology-would be pervasive, and that these effects would be both comparable in magnitude to and contingent on effects of the host genetic background. To evaluate the effects of the microbiota, host genotype, and their interaction on gene expression in the gut of a genetically diverse, gnotobiotic host model, the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), we compared RNA-seq data among 84 larval fish. Surprisingly, we found that stickleback population and family differences explained substantially more gene expression variation than the presence of microbes. Expression levels of 72 genes, however, were affected by our microbiota treatment. These genes, including many associated with innate immunity, comprise a tractable subset of host genetic factors for precise, systems-level study of host-microbe interactions in the future. Importantly, our data also suggest subtle signatures of a statistical interaction between host genotype and the microbiota on expression patterns of genetic pathways associated with innate immunity, coagulation and complement cascades, focal adhesion, cancer, and peroxisomes. These genotype-by-environment interactions may prove to be important leads to the understanding of host genetic mechanisms commonly at the root of sometimes complex molecular relationships between hosts and their resident microbes.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) has a characteristic reproductive mode; mature males build nests using a secreted glue-like protein called spiggin. Although recent studies reported multiple occurrences of genes that encode this glue-like protein spiggin in threespine and ninespine sticklebacks, it is still unclear how many genes compose the spiggin multi-gene family. RESULTS: Genome sequence analysis of threespine stickleback showed that there are at least five spiggin genes and two pseudogenes, whereas a single spiggin homolog occurs in the genomes of other fishes. Comparative genome sequence analysis demonstrated that Muc19, a single-copy mucous gene in human and mouse, is an ortholog of spiggin. Phylogenetic and molecular evolutionary analyses of these sequences suggested that an ancestral spiggin gene originated from a member of the mucin gene family as a single gene in the common ancestor of teleosts, and gene duplications of spiggin have occurred in the stickleback lineage. There was inter-population variation in the copy number of spiggin genes and positive selection on some codons, indicating that additional gene duplication/deletion events and adaptive evolution at some amino acid sites may have occurred in each stickleback population. CONCLUSION: A number of spiggin genes exist in the threespine stickleback genome. Our results provide insight into the origin and dynamic evolutionary process of the spiggin multi-gene family in the threespine stickleback lineage. The dramatic evolution of genes for mucous substrates may have contributed to the generation of distinct characteristics such as "bio-glue" in vertebrates.
Project description:The outcome of selection on genetic variation depends on the geographic organization of individuals and populations as well as the organization of loci within the genome. Spatially variable selection between marine and freshwater habitats has had a significant and heterogeneous impact on patterns of genetic variation across the genome of threespine stickleback fish. When marine stickleback invade freshwater habitats, more than a quarter of the genome can respond to divergent selection, even in as little as 50 years. This process largely uses standing genetic variation that can be found ubiquitously at low frequency in marine populations, can be millions of years old, and is likely maintained by significant bidirectional gene flow. Here, we combine population genomic data of marine and freshwater stickleback from Cook Inlet, Alaska, with genetic maps of stickleback fish derived from those same populations to examine how linkage to loci under selection affects genetic variation across the stickleback genome. Divergent selection has had opposing effects on linked genetic variation on chromosomes from marine and freshwater stickleback populations: near loci under selection, marine chromosomes are depauperate of variation, while these same regions among freshwater genomes are the most genetically diverse. Forward genetic simulations recapitulate this pattern when different selective environments also differ in population structure. Lastly, dense genetic maps demonstrate that the interaction between selection and population structure may impact large stretches of the stickleback genome. These findings advance our understanding of how the structuring of populations across geography influences the outcomes of selection, and how the recombination landscape broadens the genomic reach of selection.
Project description:To explain differences in gut microbial communities we must determine how processes regulating microbial community assembly (colonization, persistence) differ among hosts and affect microbiota composition. We surveyed the gut microbiota of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) from 10 geographically clustered populations and sequenced environmental samples to track potential colonizing microbes and quantify the effects of host environment and genotype. Gut microbiota composition and diversity varied among populations. These among-population differences were associated with multiple covarying ecological variables: habitat type (lake, stream, estuary), lake geomorphology and food- (but not water-) associated microbiota. Fish genotype also covaried with gut microbiota composition; more genetically divergent populations exhibited more divergent gut microbiota. Our results suggest that population level differences in stickleback gut microbiota may depend more on internal sorting processes (host genotype) than on colonization processes (transient environmental effects).
Project description:INTRODUCTION:It is important to understand the drivers leading to adaptive phenotypic diversity within and among species. The threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) has become a model system for investigating the genetic and phenotypic responses during repeated colonization of fresh waters from the original marine habitat. During the freshwater colonization process there has been a recurrent and parallel reduction in the number of lateral bone plates, making it a suitable system for studying adaptability and parallel evolution. OBJECTIVE:The aim of this study was to investigate an alternative evolutionary path of lateral plate reduction, where lateral plates are reduced in size rather than number. MATERIALS AND METHODS:A total of 72 threespine stickleback individuals from freshwater (n = 54), brackish water (n = 27) and marine water (n = 9) were analysed using microcomputed tomography (?CT) to determine variation in size, thickness and structure of the lateral plates. Furthermore, whole-body bone volume, and bone volume, bone surface and porosity of lateral plate number 4 were quantified in all specimens from each environment. RESULTS:The results showed a significant difference in plate size (area and volume) among populations, where threespine stickleback from polymorphic freshwater and brackish water populations displayed lateral plates reduced in size (area and volume) compared to marine stickleback. CONCLUSIONS:Reduction of lateral plates in threespine stickleback in fresh and brackish water occurs by both plate loss and reduction in plate size (area and volume).
Project description:Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation are a key component of dosage compensation on sex chromosomes and have been proposed as an important source of phenotypic variation influencing plasticity and adaptive evolutionary processes, yet little is known about the role of DNA methylation in an ecological or evolutionary context in vertebrates. The threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) is an ecological and evolutionary model system that has been used to study mechanisms involved in the evolution of adaptive phenotypes in novel environments as well as the evolution heteromorphic sex chromosomes and dosage compensation in vertebrates. Using whole genome bisulfite sequencing, we compared genome-wide DNA methylation patterns between threespine stickleback males and females and between stickleback reared at different environmental salinities. Apparent hypermethylation of the younger evolutionary stratum of the stickleback X chromosome in females relative to males suggests a potential role of DNA methylation in the evolution of heteromorphic sex chromosomes. We also demonstrate that rearing salinity has genome-wide effects on DNA methylation levels, which has the potential to lead to the accumulation of epigenetic variation between natural populations in different environments.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Populations that have repeatedly colonized novel environments are useful for studying the role of ecology in adaptive divergence - particularly if some individuals persist in the ancestral habitat. Such "contemporary ancestors" can be used to demonstrate the effects of selection by comparing phenotypic and genetic divergence between the derived population and their extant ancestors. However, evolution and demography in these "contemporary ancestors" can complicate inferences about the source (standing genetic variation, de novo mutation) and pace of adaptive divergence. Marine threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) have colonized freshwater environments along the Pacific coast of North America, but have also persisted in the marine environment. To what extent are marine stickleback good proxies of the ancestral condition? RESULTS:We sequenced >?5800 variant loci in over 250 marine stickleback from eight locations extending from Alaska to California, and phenotyped them for platedness and body shape. Pairwise FST varied from 0.02 to 0.18. Stickleback were divided into five genetic clusters, with a single cluster comprising stickleback from Washington to Alaska. Plate number, Eda, body shape, and candidate loci showed evidence of being under selection in the marine environment. Comparisons to a freshwater population demonstrated that candidate loci for freshwater adaptation varied depending on the choice of marine populations. CONCLUSIONS:Marine stickleback are structured into phenotypically and genetically distinct populations that have been evolving as freshwater stickleback evolved. This variation complicates their usefulness as proxies of the ancestors of freshwater populations. Lessons from stickleback may be applied to other "contemporary ancestor"-derived population studies.